The day has finally come to take your puppy on her first walk in the outside world. The sun is shining and you’re both excited – this is about to be a walk to remember. But as soon as Fizzy is out the door, it’s a battle to get her to walk by your side. She is pulling on the leash making it seem like she’s taking you for a walk, rather than the other way around! This is not the walk you envisaged.
If she is still pulling as an adult, this could lead to a dangerous situation which could injure both you and your little rascal. You need to teach her how to heel, both for your safety and enjoyment.
The ‘heel’ command in itself is pretty effective. Puppies respond well to commands with short, sharp, easily recognizable tones. It’s a tried and tested prompt that many dog owners use to mean ‘come back and walk by my side’.
It may seem like a difficult task is ahead of you. Puppies are often very excitable and will be especially riled up by all the new sounds, sights and smells they will be experiencing. But puppies are also quick to learn, so the best time to approach this type of behavioral training is now! It could take a matter of days if implemented right from her first walk. But it’s more likely that a couple of weeks may be necessary to make it an ingrained behavior. Remember, consistency is key! So don’t give up too early, and make sure you maintain your response even after the training is complete.
The first thing you will need to get your puppy to heel is some treats. These act as a reward for positive behavior, thereby encouraging it. You may also want to use a clicker. This can be used at the same time as a treat is given. Your puppy will associate the click with a reward and will respond as if she is receiving a treat. It will make it easier to wean her off using food all the time.
You will be training your puppy on her next walk, so grab your leash, harness, and poop bags, then let’s go!
My dog won't heel and when I follow the steps ten times or more, she still won't do it, I stoped for at least 1 or 2 monthes and then went right back at it and she still didn;t do it, am I doing soemthing wrong?
Hello Nickey, Since your dog is older I suggest using a different method. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel The most important part of this method is to require him to walk with his head behind your leg. As soon as his muzzle starts to move past your leg, turn directly in front of him at a ninety degree angle, so that you are basically cutting him off. You want to convince him that you turn a lot and he had better pay attention to keep up with you. When you give treats, give them slightly behind your leg, not in front, so that he won't edge up in front to get treats. Practice this somewhere calm at first, like a cul-de-sac. Expect it to feel awkward at first until you both get more in sync. Expect this to take about 6-12 weeks to train, but you should see improvement within a week. It can take time to work up to other distractions though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I can't seem to get her to heel even with trying the methods above. She also barks at people when walking. I know it's just inviting them to play but obviously this still isn't a good habit to have when we go walking
Hello Lexy, Check out the article I have linked below. I recommend the Turns method because the changes in direction combined with treat rewards can help some pups focus better. Also, know that this takes time and practice. It's normal for puppies to struggle with this at first. Start somewhere very calm since puppies are easily distracted. Reward even one second of being in the correct position, even if pup didn't realize they were doing it. Keep your energy enthusiastic and even a bit silly to help pup focus on you - most great puppy trainers look rather goofy because puppies love that usually. At first, you are mostly just trying to get pup to realize they should be next to you, to pay any attention to you even a little, and just to walk in a straight line (puppies tend to weave and bolt a lot at first). Small steps of progress are still progress. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Also, check out the puppy class videos below. There you can see other's practicing heel and how the trainer uses their enthusiasm to help keep pup engaged. It may also help you feel better about how easily your pup is distracted, seeing that some of the pups there are as well. Puppy Class videos: Week 1, pt 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnhJGU2NO5k Week 1, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-1-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 1 https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-2-home-jasper-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1-0 For the barking, work on teaching pup the Quiet command, and reward pup for stopping barking when told quiet and when they see someone and don't bark - carry small treats or pup's kibble with you on walks as rewards. Also, seek out a lot of opportunities to socialize pup with people. Instruct people to tell pup to do calm commands like Sit, and either toss a treat at pup's paws or feed under their chin (not holding the treat over their head or that causes jumping). You want pup to feel confident around people and for people to be such a common occurrence that they aren't a big deal for pup anymore. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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